I heard of a story about a rich man who would go to his banker the first of the year and ask this question. “I died last night, now tell me how my estate stands,” When I think about this illustration, I wonder if each Christian should take an account of his life each morning and ask the same question, “I died last night, now where do I stand?” Don't we all want to be like Stephen who, when he was being stoned to death, could be sure enough of his life to say; “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Acts 7:60. Stephen knew where he would be the next morning. Let’s look at a few questions we might ask about our own lives.
Did I obey the Gospel?
This question is first because we have heard so many stories of people who were going to obey the Gospel. If we could only ask those people who put it off what they would do if they had another chance, I am sure their answer would be different, don’t you? We heard of happenings like this, but it seems we always think it will happen to the other person. Remember... You died last night.
Was I faithful to the Lord?
Two men met on the street one day and, as was customary to do, one greeted the other man with a question, “How is the Lord treating you?” The reply was, “The Lord is treating me great!” The next question really made the man think, “How are you treating the Lord?” Sometimes we think in our own mind, I have been baptized and now I’m on my way to heaven. I am not trying to take away God’s grace or one’s assurance of salvation, but James tells us that our faith apart from works is dead, James spends half of a chapter on this subject. James 2: 14-26.
Have you ever thought you were dying? Most of us have been in situations where we thought this is it. And if we had time to think, would we be saying I will change my life, just get me out of this mess and I will be a faithful Christian. Just remember you died last night and cannot change a thing. You are still living if you are reading this. Now is the time to serve the Lord while you still can… Amen
This very old song still inspires us today just as it did when it was written. The song itself comes from a time when our nation was divided by Civil War. It was a time when people really needed to be guided by our God, just as we do today. If you look at all four verses you will find that the words “He Leadeth Me” are used eight times. The point being that Our God should be leading our every step. I do wonder if this was the case, what this world would be like. Much of the time these days, God’s leading hand is forgotten. He has blessed us with these words to live by but they are rejected because it’s not what we want to do, no one tells me what to do. This is what had happened in the Book of Malachi. God tells the people, He loves them, and they say “how?”
In the Book of Psalm chapter 139 starting in verse 1 - it reads,
“ O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will LEAD me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.”
The Lord is there to LEAD us, but we have to take hold of His hand so that He can. God Has blessed us with His Word, the Bible, to Lead us and it will not fail. He leaded me: O blessed tho’t! O words with heav’n-ly comfort fraught! What e’er I do, where’re I be. Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
This story, perhaps you have heard before, is one of my favorites and one even I’ve shared before. This story, whether true or simply legend, is, I believe, a great lesson of a truly mature perspective on life and priorities.
There was a Native American visiting New York City and he went walking, escorted by a friend who lived there. As they were walking and talking in the busiest section of Manhattan, the Indian stopped and told his friend that he could hear a cricket. His friend, of course, thought the idea of hearing a cricket in downtown Manhattan was crazy and he asked his Indian friend how he could possibly be hearing a cricket. The Indian insisted that he could really hear a cricket and that, given a minute, or so, he could find it. Again, the Native American was challenged by his friend who identified the subways passing underneath, the taxis roaring and honking, the throngs of people talking, and brakes screeching as the conditions that make it impossible to hear a cricket. But the Indian persisted, as he began to walk further and cocked his head. His friend closely observed as the Indian walked to the end of the block and crossed over to the other side of the street and walked up the street before moving on to another. Then, he went over to a cement planter out of which a tree was growing, reached into the mulch, and pulled up the cricket. “I told you there was a cricket around here someplace!” he exclaimed as his friend looked on in amazement. His friend asked how he could hear the sound of a cricket with all of the big city noises that were around, to which the Indian replied “It’s all a matter of what you listen for.” Then he said, “Watch this.” as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a number of coins, held them up high, and then dropped them so that the noise of the change could be heard. Immediately, everyone within the block stopped in their tracks and turned to look for the money. “I told you it’s all a matter of what you listen for – what’s important to you,” the Indian said to his friend.
The questions that we need to answer and the lesson for all of us is “What do we “listen” for?” and “What’s really important in our lives?”. Do we heed the things of this world and our culture? Is that what our priority or strongest influence is? And, it isn’t always about money or materialism. Sometimes it’s about things or activities that occupy our time and minds. We need to ask the question about what we listen for because of the prevailing atmosphere of our society and culture, where self-satisfaction, glamour, and attainment of wealth and fame – earthly treasures - are the priorities. “No one can serve two masters…you cannot serve God and mammon (wealth - NASB/money- ESV).” (Luke 16:13) “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth…but…in heaven…For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21) “Do not love the world or the things in the world... the world is passing away…but he who does the will of God lives (abides) forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
We should try to make sure that God’s Word shapes our perspective and that we strive, daily, to learn His Truth and live by His Will. HIS PROMISES SHOULD CONTINUOUSLY BE OUR HOPE AND TREASURE. Together, God will continue to bless us as we strive and grow toward true spiritual maturity!
As we draw closer and closer to the time when we will have a new facility where we can assemble for worship or other spiritual activity, as well as gather for “family” time or fun, I am reminded of a similar endeavor undertaken many years ago, which the Holy Spirit had recorded for us to consider—in 2018! (Romans 15:4)
“And Bezalel and Oholiab, and every gifted artisan in whom the LORD has put wisdom and understanding, to know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, shall do according to all that the LORD has commanded. Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab, and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work. And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsman who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.’ So Moses gave a commandment… and the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done—indeed too much.” (from Ex. 36:1-7: Provisions for the Tabernacle) (NKJV)
“Then King David said to the entire assembly: “…the work is great; for the temple is not for man, but for the LORD God. Now with all my ability I have provided for the house of my God…Moreover, in my delight in the house of my God, the treasure I have…I give…over and above all that I have already prepared for the holy temple…Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly. And for the service for the house of God they gave…Then the people rejoiced, because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.” (from 1st Chron. 29:1-9: Provisions for the Temple) (NASB95)
Let’s prayerfully consider these scriptures as we look to a time when we may be called upon to offering our “gift” of love, be it monetary or otherwise, to ensure the completion of a tremendous investment into the future of this congregation. We recognize that the facility is not the temple of old. It is, nevertheless, a place that helps to facilitate the work of this church. The Ripon church of Christ, a Family of God, rooted in Christ, is a congregation of the LORD’s church that is dedicated and committed to doing our absolute best for Him! We are on the brink of realizing an enormous blessing and can be confident that God will continue to bless us for our generous hearts!
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew. 28:19-20)
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; (Romans 12:10-11)
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart… (2 Cor. 9:6-7)
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common;…with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people… (Acts 2:42-47)
This commission is to all of us who are children of God. Each of us must decide how we will answer that “calling”. Will we respond as Isaiah did? “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Yes, it is a BIG mission and a BIG task! But, it’s been done before (Col. 1:5-6 & Jude 3) We have a BIG GOD and with us working together and sharing a common BIG faith, what seems like an impossible task becomes possible – when we keep our trust in GOD. TOGETHER we can do this, because GOD will bless us as we do His will – TOGETHER!
13397 West Ripon Road, Ripon CA 95366